Intentional Plane Crashes A Rare Occurrence

The downing of Germanwings flight 9525 that killed all 150 passengers on board was declared a intentional crash by French officials, the New York Timesreports.

A voice recording found on the plane’s black box indicated the co-pilot, 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz of Germany, intentionally crashed the plane into the French Alps after locking his colleague out of the cockpit.

Chief prosecutor for the case Brice Robin told the Times, “At this moment, in light of investigation, the interpretation we can give at this time is that the co-pilot through voluntary abstention refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude.”

In the recording, the co-pilots can be heard talking for about 20 minutes, at which point the commanding pilot asks Lubitz to man the plane while he appears to exit the cockpit.

“At this stage, the co-pilot is in control, alone,” said the prosecutor, according to the Times. “It is when he is alone that the co-pilot manipulates the flight monitoring system to activate the descent of the plane.”

The fact that Lubitz was breathing at a normal pace until the moment of impact proves the crash was intentional, and not caused by a health issue, investigators say. Assuming the crash was indeed intentional, the downing of Germanwings flight 9525 would rank among a handful of other cases in which pilots intentionally crashed their aircrafts, a Toronto Star report noted.

A number of those events were detailed in the CNN piece “Deliberate Acts: 5 Cases Of Pilots Intentionally Crashing.” According to the report, the Aviation Safety Network tallied a total of five cases in the last 39 years in which pilots intentionally crashed commercial flights.

In each of the five cases, the motive for the intention was unclear, though suicide was suspected.

Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said in a news conference in Cologne that the company’s staff “received psychological and flight training,” the Times reports.

Spohr said Lubitz’ training had been interrupted for an undisclosed reason, but that nothing turned up in his medical and psychological tests.

[Photo Credit: LesEchos]